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15 Sep 2016 05:00pm

EU sets up Brexit taskforce

The European Commission (EC) has set up a taskforce to negotiate Britain's exit from the EU

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Caption: Group will be headed by Michel Barnier and Sabine Weyand

The Article 50 taskforce, headed by Michel Barnier, will be in charge of preparing and conducting negotiations with the UK following its decision to leave the union.

Sabine Weyand was also appointed as deputy chief negotiator. From next month, Weyand, who is currently deputy director-general in the EC’s trade department, will cover inter alia WTO matters, "trade defence, TTIP and neighbourhood policy".

The German national was previously in charge of policy coordination in the secretariat-general and a member of cabinet of trade commissioner Pascal Lamy.

Jean-Claude Juncker, EC president, said, "This new task force will be composed of the Commission's best and brightest.

“They will help Michel Barnier to conduct the negotiations with the United Kingdom effectively, benefiting from the deep knowledge and rich experience available across the whole Commission.

“Together, Michel and his team will live up to this new challenge and help us to develop a new partnership with the United Kingdom after it will have left the European Union."

The formation of the new taskforce follows an informal meeting in Brussels in late June with the heads of state of the 27 member states and the presidents of the EC and the European Council.

In that meeting, they agreed the UK exit from the EU would need to be organised in an “orderly fashion”.

Once the Article 50 process is triggered, Michel Barnier - who will take up his duties next month - will take the necessary formal contacts with the UK authorities, the EC said.

Barnier clashed with the City of London as he oversaw 40 laws aimed at tightening regulations on banks and markets in a bid to reform the financial services industry. His plans to cap bankers’ bonuses led to a major dispute with the then chancellor George Osborne.

A Downing Street spokesperson said at the time of Barnier’s appointment, “We’ve said it’s important that both sides prepare for the negotiations. We look forward to working with representatives from the member states, the council and the commission to ensure an orderly departure of the UK from the EU.”

Barnier also announced on Twitter that Stéphanie Riso will be his principal adviser in the taskforce, together with Georg Emil Riekeles, an adviser for inter-institutional relations.

Jessica Fino

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